Wednesday, August 13, 2003

A Bad Case of Ted Head

Bring me the head of Ted Williams. No, it's not connected to his body anymore.

Sports Illustrated says that the Splendid Splinter was decapitated by surgeons at Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the cryonics lab where Williams was frozen by his wacky family. Then the head was placed in a steel can while his body is suspended in a separate upright cylindrical tube.

I've always been a prove-it kind of guy, so I won't believe cryonics works until at least one popsicle person is defrosted and returned to life. Until then, this is just nonsense and a waste of money. The procedure costs about $136,000, not to mention the ongoing maintenance expenses, which are not insubstantial. Personally, I'd rather my family find something better to do with that money than to keep me on ice for a couple of centuries.

But if -- and that's a big if -- it can be done, what's the use of coming back to the land of the living if your head isn't attached to your body anymore? I don't know about you, but I use my head several times a day. It's a particularly good place to keep my brain. What assurance is there that, after I reach room temperature, they'd put my own head back on my body? How do I know it won't be Marty Feldman jamming Abby Normal's skull on my torso? Come to think of it, how do I know they wouldn't connect Marty Feldman's formerly frosty noggin to my collarbone?

SI says that Ted's heirs still owe Alcor about $110,000, which is a big enough bill to make me wonder how diligent the lab would be about things like the liquid nitrogen level, or letting the thermostat dip down a few degrees every once in awhile to put some pressure on the next of kin. The magazine reports that something has gone wrong a few times, causing the Ted Head to develop about 10 cracks (making it a Crack Head?).

Then there's the question of the missing DNA. Eight samples of Ted's genetic goo are missing. No doubt somewhere there's an evil genius trying to grow those samples into the all-time clone baseball team -- where the DH stands for Defrosted Hitter. Put them on the field behind Danny Almonte and sign 'em up for the Birdseye Little League World Series.

One more point to ponder. If the Williams kids were so keen on this technology that they had their father turned into Mr. Freeze, how come none of them has signed up to be frozen when they die?